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We learned a great many things about the 2008 edition of the Kansas City Chiefs as they ended a dismal season Sunday with another loss, this time at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals, 16-6. Changes are coming and we saw the last of some of our favorite coaches and players.
Admiringly, the Chiefs never quit on Herm Edwards. Despite the abominable record, injuries, trade distractions, league suspensions and a rotation of quarterbacks, the team gave it all on the field.
That’s good, but it didn’t solve the major problem that plagued this team all season. The Chiefs could not win close games. They had multiple opportunities but only came away with wins over Oakland and Denver.
That falls on coaching. There was little leadership late in games, and the conservative nature with which the Chiefs played on both sides of the ball is a direct result of coaching.
Edwards should take some blame for not getting more involved in the decisions that Gunther Cunningham and Chan Gailey made this year, especially late in games. Sure, you have to trust your coordinators but there comes a time in every game where you forget common sense and gamble. When you see a trend in a game is not working, do something else.
If Edwards somehow gets the opportunity to return as head coach in 2009, I doubt he makes that mistake again.
On the field, we learned that Tyler Thigpen isn’t a lock to be KC’s starter in 2009. He’s regressed in recent weeks and though Gailey shares some blame in that lack of growth, Thigpen has seemed less sure and far less accurate down the stretch.
With the third overall pick and two potential franchise quarterbacks available at the top of the draft (Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Georgia’s Matt Stafford) the Chiefs have little choice but to snag one of them next April.
The good news for Chiefs fans is that with the Ford Family taking brutal financial hits on their automotive business, it’s doubtful they’ll be inclined to pay for the $75 million contract that Bradford and Stafford will demand.
The St. Louis Rams, who have the second overall pick, already handed over that kind of coin ($65 million) to their current starting quarterback, Marc Bulger, so it’s doubtful they’d go after a quarterback early in the draft. The Rams also need major help on the offensive line and, with plenty of talented tackles coming out, will have options.
That leaves the Chiefs, who will be forced to take a quarterback despite the fact they need two starting linebackers, a pass rushing defensive end and another wide receiver, will have plenty of time to study Stafford and Bradford over the next four months.
Four Things to Watch on Monday
1. Scott Pioli
Cleveland Browns GM Phil Savage was fired Sunday. Head Coach Romeo Crennel is expected to be given his pink slip later today. That means that New England Patriots V.P. of Player Personnel Scott Pioli could jump ship to Cleveland. Chiefs fans want to see Pioli in Kansas City, but that appears to be a long shot at this point.
2. Marty Schottenheimer
The big rumor from Jay Glazer of Fox Sports.com was that Clark Hunt spoke with Schottenheimer about joining the organization in some capacity. The rumor is that Schottenheimer will become the new GM, but we’re told that’s not likely. Instead, he may come aboard ala Bill Parcells in Miami and act as a consultant for Hunt.
3. Carl Peterson
He probably won’t be out of the NFL long. Per our league source, Peterson likely has an open invitation to join the Miami Dolphins. His long time friend, Stephen Ross, already owns 50 percent of the franchise and now plans on acquiring an additional 45 percent interest in the next week. That means Bill Parcells can take his $8 million buyout and become a free agent. We’re also told Peterson may have another opportunity with another AFC team.
4. Herm Edwards
All eyes will be on Edwards Monday during his season-ending press conference. Will it be his last as a Kansas City Chief? Perhaps, but Sunday I received over 50 e-mails from associates, league sources and friends of Warpaint who indicated that Edwards would likely be out as Chiefs head coach once the new GM is onboard. But Clark Hunt ultimately holds the trump card. Speaking personally, I’d like Edwards to stay, but he’ll have to rid the roster of players like Larry Johnson and other aging veterans. He’ll also need some new coaches who have more of an NFL background if he wants to win the AFC West in 2009.